WHITEFIELD — A softball tournament, children’s games, a pie-eating contest and antiques appraisals are all part of a town celebration designed to bring people of all ages together on Saturday.

Whitefield Community Day is part of an effort by some residents to engage more people — particularly young people and families — in the town’s government and civic life.

Selectman Tony Marple said virtually no one younger than 40 or 50 was at the Town Meeting in March, meaning a significant portion of the population wasn’t represented. In addition, the youngest person on the Board of Selectmen is in his 50s.

“I’d like to see more people engaged and sharing ideas,” Marple said. “There’s a lot of good things going on, a lot of young kids going back into farming. There’s a lot to tap into.”

A public forum about civic engagement in the spring drew more and younger people, and many said they simply didn’t know how to get involved.

In response, a small group of residents organized a monthly newsletter that debuted in July.

Distributed by email and at local spots such as the Sheepscot General Store, it includes a calendar of events, photos, short articles and school information.

“We’re still just trying to let people know what’s going on, and it’s hard for people to be involved if they don’t know what events are happening,” Suzanne Balbo said. “So there’s one place to look for events.”

Balbo and her husband, Clint Towle, both 36, bought a farm in Whitefield last year. She said the newsletter has been received well, with printed copies running out quickly and more people seeking to place ads in it.

Balbo said attendance at Whitefield Community Day will be an indication of whom the outreach efforts are reaching.

The celebration will include events at Whitefield Elementary School, a tent set up behind the Town Office and a spaghetti supper and music at the Arlington Grange.

There will be a craft fair and flea market with about 15 vendors, an art show, a police dog demonstration, a pie-eating contest, performances by two bands and antiques appraisals.

Sue McKeen, one of the event’s organizers, said she hopes it will showcase the wide variety of people who live in Whitefield and their talents.

“I think it’s to point up who lives in our community, who actually lives here,” she said. “And to foster that idea that getting back to doing things face-to-face instead of electronically all the time is kind of a fun thing.”

Another public forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Sheepscot General Store.

Marple said town leaders will be looking for volunteers this fall to serve on a road committee and a new trails committee.

McKeen said the people who attended public meetings over the spring and summer clearly care about Whitefield, and she hopes they can find ways to get involved.

“It’s one thing to live in a town, but it’s another to belong there,” she said.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]

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